Backpacks: A Thing of the Past for 7th and 8th grade

An new policy at the middle school has students leaving their backpacks in their lockers

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If you walk down the seventh or eighth grade hallway, you will notice one common school item that nobody is carrying: backpacks.

Backpacks are no longer allowed in the classrooms for those two grade levels at Tyrone Area Middle School.

According to several middle school teachers and administrators, backpacks had become a safety hazard in the classroom.

“On any given day, as teachers, we have students moving in our classrooms for a multitude of reasons. More and more often, students have been tripping over backpacks,” said seventh grade teacher Susan Orlosky. “Some students were able to catch themselves, but unfortunately some students fell to the floor. We have been very fortunate that no major injuries have occurred to date.”

I feel it makes more controversy than it does good. The new policy is incredibly inconvenient to the students, and in a short while will be inconvenient to the teachers as well, as students repeatedly forget class supplies.”

— Mara Focht

However, the new policy has been generally unpopular among the students. One eighth grade student is circulating a petition opposed to the policy.

“I have approximately 100 signatures,” said Anna-Lynn Fryer, the eighth grade student who created the petition. “I thought the rule of no backpacks in classrooms because of a safety issue wasn’t the smartest decision.”

“I feel it makes more controversy than it does good. The new policy is incredibly inconvenient to the students, and in a short while will be inconvenient to the teachers as well, as students repeatedly forget class supplies,” said eighth grade student Mara Focht.

But according to teachers and the students who are in favor of the policy, backpacks are a tripping threat and they weigh students down.

Some students are glad that their backs don’t hurt as much.

“I personally feel like that backpack thing is good thing. For one my back feels better [from] not carrying the books on my back and two it keeps me way more organized so I like it a lot,” eighth grade student Colin Yaudes said in agreement with the policy.

“No one is thrilled by this new policy, but we do like the fact of not carrying around a 20-30 pound bag around all day,” stated eighth grade student Lucia Isenburg.

The new policy was published on the Middle School website to notify the parents of the change. The students were also told the week before the policy changed.

“[We’ve] been trying [this policy] for almost two weeks,” said eighth grade teacher Jessica Hetrick. “The majority of [students] like it and it’s been working so far.”

The teachers worked with the students on planning on how to get to their lockers and continually helped with reminders of their locker combinations.

“I feel that this policy has both pros and cons. I definitely know some students will struggle with planning when to go to their lockers, and it will take time to get accustomed to that,” said eighth grade teacher Anne Maddox. “Some students are also concerned about the safety or security of their lockers versus carrying items with them. On the other hand, some students already travel this way, and others are trying it already and noticing how easy it can be.”

Some students are also concerned about the safety or security of their lockers versus carrying items with them. On the other hand, some students already travel this way, and others are trying it already and noticing how easy it can be.”

— Middle School Teacher Anne Maddox

Unlike eighth and seventh grade, sixth grade has handled the problem in a different way. The teachers have decided to make sure all backpacks are under the desks or hanging on the back of their chairs.

“The new policy does not affect sixth grade. Like the other grade levels we do have some problems with backpacks in the aisles and causing a tripping hazard. We chose to deal with that problem by having students keep backpacks on the back of their desk chair or under the seat,” stated sixth grade teacher Steven Stoner.

According to a few high school teachers, they don’t really see the backpacks as a serious issue in their classrooms due to the fact that students can put them under their desks. However, some larger backpacks don’t fit and need to be put in the aisles, which presents a hazard.

Although the policy isn’t what the students wanted exactly, everyone has noticed a safer change in their classrooms.

“I have every confidence that we can work with our students through this transition – after all, we are here for them even when we don’t agree on the rules!” said Maddox.

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